Roots to Wings

Roots to Wings is a health sciences education pathway program that serves Native American and Hispanic students between grades seven and twelve attending the Mt. Adams School District (MASD) and the Yakama Nation Tribal School (YNTS) located in southern Washington.
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Roots to Wings is a transformative co-mentoring health sciences education pathway program for Native American and Mexican-American students in grades six through twelve and osteopathic medical students. The collaborative program involves Mt. Adams School District (MASD), Yakama Nation Tribal School (YNTS), Chief Leschi School (CLS), Heritage University (HU), and Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences (PNWU)

Roots to Wings is more than a pathway to the health sciences, it is a co-mentoring program. First and second year osteopathic medical students are encouraged to develop a mutual mentoring relationship with the students from MASD, CLS and YNTS.  This relationship deepens PNWU students’ understanding of both Native America and Mexican-American cultures, values and traditions, as well as stimulate today’s youth to pursue an education in the health sciences.  The medical students learn firsthand the challenges of providing care in underserved populations and foster their desire to serve in rural communities as primary care physicians.

Roots to Wings Mission and Vision Statement
Prepared by Dr. Ramos-Diaz and RTW Steering Committee

Roots to Wings believes in the full development of every person with emphasis on Native Americans and Mexican-Americans living on the Yakama Nation homeland leading to quality education and healthcare access.


  • Youth deserves access to quality education to be change agents entering the health field and transforming their community.
  • Empowering youth to improve their academic and spiritual potential while remaining true to their values and traditions.


  • To increase the number of Native Americans and Mexican Americans in osteopathic medicine and other healing arts.
  • To decrease health inequities through education access opportunities.

Core Values:

Roots to Wings program is embodied in these key values:

  • Community co-ownership:  commit to responding to underrepresented youth by partnering to maximize educational opportunities in the Yakima Valley with a focus on Native American populations.
  • Collaboration:  respectfully work with compassion, integrity, and openness with educational institutions to enhance the education of youth, college, medical students and other medical professionals.
  • Humility:  gather in the circle to listen and honor the place of not knowing.  This leads to awareness, openness, and cultural sensitivity, which inform our plans and actions.
  • Egalitarian:  understand each person has important and significant gifts to offer collectively.
  • Traditional knowledge:  We value the integral participation of the tribal elders in the education experience.
  • Compassion:  every plan of action executed must emerge with kindness for all.

If you would like to know more about the Roots to Wings program please contact faculty program director, Dr. Mirna Ramos-Diaz at (509) 249-7796 or or Celest Riojas, Project Coordinator, at (509)249-7753 or  Anyone wishing to help support this program can make a donation by going to the Make a Gift page on the PNWU website and just indicate in the ‘special arrangements for this gift’ that you would like the gift to go to Roots to Wings.

Roots to Wings Brochure

Roots to Wings Videos


External Links: Roots to Wings Stories

Contact Information

Student Affairs Office Hours:
Monday - Friday
8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
BHH - Suite 317

Contact Us
f 509.249.7909

Roots to Wings Faculty Program Director

Dr. Mirna Ramos-Diaz, MD, MA, FAAP 


Roots to Wings Faculty Program Coordinator

Celest Riojas